The Full Extent of Love by Kenika

February is pretty epic because it’s the month of my birth, but apparently there is another holiday as well called Valentine’s Day.  This year is special because it will be my and my husband’s first Valentine’s Day as a married couple.  After almost 9 months of marriage, I’ve had a good amount of time, plenty more to go of course, to understand some of the peaks and valleys of love.  I’m pretty sure I thought I knew enough about what it would take in order to make the plunge into marriage, and I am now fully confident I didn’t know the first thing about real love.  Okay maybe I knew the first thing, but not the hundreds of others!  

When I think about what my truest understanding of love is, my mind immediately goes to John 3:16, one of the most popular, familiar, and commonly quoted verses of scripture.  It makes perfect sense that it would be, because it is a description of the Gospel in a very simple form.  You could poll one hundred women about what love is, or one hundred men on what love looks like, and I am positive that the responses would run the gamut.  But when I look at John 3:16 I see the full extent of love in the sacrifice that God made for the world.  This is our model of true love and we can learn a lot from this level of self-denial.  I could try to break it down but I really like the way William MacDonald dissects this verse in the “Believer’s Bible Commentary” so I’m going to let him take it from here: 

3:16 God, we read, so loved the world.  The world here includes all mankind.  God does not love men’s sins or the wicked world system, but He loves people and is not willing that any should perish.  The extent of His love is show by the fact that He gave His only begotten Son.  God has no other Son like the Lord Jesus. It was an expression of His infinite love that He would be willing to give His unique Son for a race of rebel sinners.  This does not mean that everyone is saved.  A person must receive what Christ has done for him before God will give him eternal life.  Therefore, the words were added, “that whoever believes in Him should not perish.” Boreham says: “When the church comes to understand the love with which God loved the world, she will be restless and ill at ease, until all the great empires have been captured, until every coral island has been won.” 

3:17 God is not a harsh, cruel ruler anxious to pour out His anger on mankind.  His heart is filled with tenderness toward man and He has gone to the utmost cost in order to save men.”

Let Grace and Love Abound by Sonya

“Much more will those who receive abundance of grace and gift of righteousness reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:17 

Let grace abound for the forgiveness of sins and our wrongdoings. We are so fast to make a judgment or look down on someone for his or her sin. Romans 5:20, “Where sin abounds, grace abounds much more.” Grace needs to be given in relationships and Jesus offers that grace to us each and every day. We are a performance-based society that focuses on the laws and what we can do and what we do wrong.  It is a mentality that we have to prove something to the other person but when we fall or fail we tend to not get the support and love from others. Why is it hard to forgive and choose grace when someone has wronged you? For me, when I get offended I feel unloved by that person and I tend to put a wall up in that relationship instead of confronting that person. God is really working on my heart to just go to that person directly and let grace and love abound and forgive that person. This is hard for me in my marriage because I get offended easier by the one that I love the most. Each day I can point out something my husband is doing wrong or not doing enough of. This is wrong as I may assume the worst instead of seeing the best in him.  We need to know we are all imperfect people that need a Savior.  Who are we to judge someone who needs grace and forgiveness?  We cannot reign in life through Jesus like Romans says if we get offended, impatient or angry being hung up on the sin of that person. Paul continues to say in Romans 6:14, “For sin will not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” I am so thankful for God’s grace because it frees us to not be bound by sin! When I look at my spouse I need to see him through God’s eyes, full of grace and love.​ 

 This Valentine’s Day I want to extend more love and grace to the one I love and not be hung up on what I want to change or what offends me. Let’s pray that God gives us eyes to see each person through His lenses.  There is an abundance of grace God gives us to a life overcoming of sin and forgiveness of sin. Having a heart full of grace and love will change the way we interact in our relationships.  I hope there is a sweeter love between you and the one you love this Valentine’s Day. 

Happy Hour by Bombi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ever since I’ve entered back into the work force as a mom I quickly adopted a favorite time of day. It truly is the happiest part of my day. A time to let my hair down, let my guard down, and just let loose. My co-workers agree that this is their favorite hour as well. As a matter of fact, throughout the years I’ve been invited to enjoy happy hour with them. However, I have an ongoing decline to their invite.

You see, my happy hour isn’t the same as theirs. I have a happy hour all my own. Mine doesn’t include chips, salsa, and a martini at the nearby bar. No my friends, my happy hour is the hour I get to go home. It’s the first moments I get to see the faces of my kids and the man I love. Happy hour includes, “How was your day?” and, “Did you find out what grade you got on your test?” and also, “What did you guys want to eat for dinner?” I don’t know if you’ve found it commonplace to meet folks with families who are constantly trying to escape them, but I seem to find them all around me. They might not notice that in passing they air their frustrations about their “baby of a husband” or “annoying kids they can’t wait to send off.” If this is news to you, I apologize, but sadly it’s no exaggeration. These statements are ones I’ve actually heard, and more than once.  While no one’s earthly life is perfect, I can tell you that mine is blessed and an answer to prayer.

I can remember like it was yesterday, trying to be a good mom to my daughter, as a single mom at times it was hard and exhausting, and at times lonely, but I always loved being a mom, and I always desired in my heart to have a chance to parent alongside someone who loved and respected us both. I also desired to have a son, but I wasn’t about to go have a baby out of wedlock to fulfill this secret want. But in the midst of life God heard my heart and within time, I got a chance to know life as I experience it now. It’s one where I don’t have to escape my life and family by being at some neighborhood bar. It’s a life that I don’t dread or want to run away from. It’s one where my husband shares the same sentiment, so rather than run from his place as a leader in our home, he runs to home. It’s a life where I not only have a precious daughter, but also the son I longed for.

Life now isn’t all roses and sunshine at every moment. But it’s still a dream come true, and as I said earlier, it’s an answer to prayer. It’s one I could only daydream about at one point, but now experience it all the time. It’s a life that I know in just a few short years or so, my husband and I will transition into an “empty-nest” so to speak, but one where I don’t have to sit alone as I watch my daughter go off and live life as an adult. It’s a life where we can experience together sending both of our kids into the world to be the best they can be. It’s a life of lots of laughter, and sometimes tears, and prayers, and meals, and talks, and stay at home movies, and homework, and basketball practice, and choir concerts, and all and everything in between. It’s a life of happy hour every day. It’s a blessed life, and I thank God I get to be a mother to my Avery and Noel.  I also thank God I get to do it not by myself, but with my precious, passionate, servant-leader of a husband.

So for any parent reading this, or if you one day hope to be, I challenge you to change the worlds definition of “Happy Hour.”  I encourage you to realize that your life doesn’t have to be one where you’re daily yearning to escape your family to find a breather, but one where you’re experiencing and cherishing the blessing that God always intended it to be. Because in case you forgot, “those kids” aren’t a burden, they are your true reward.

Psalm 127:3-5(NKJV)

3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,

The fruit of the womb is a reward.

4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,

So are the children of one’s youth.

5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;

Photo Credit: ID 99964469 © Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime.com

 

A Love Like No Other by Trish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not too long ago celebrated or time set aside for showing affection and love towards those we have relationship with; be it a romantic love, family love or friendship love.  My husband is of the persuasion we should celebrate love every day and not glamorize or commercialize one day of an entire year to be loving. Me, I’m the typical gal who loves the idea of having a day of intentional focus and showering affection on those dear to our heart. Neither of us are wrong in our approach to February 14th, we all see Valentine’s Day differently.   But what I did take note of this year is what a difference this day is for me now that I am with someone. While I appreciate the cards, flowers and gifts from my husband, I still find that no matter how much he showers me with such gifts, there is still no love like the love of Jesus. I think back to the days when I was single and I so longed to have someone to share February 14th with and all the while I had a Savior who gave His life to spend all my days with. Too often we set our sights on what the world sees as fulfilling and gratifying, but the truth of the matter is there is only one love that can satisfy the longing of our heart.

As we continue to move forward in 2018 I would like to encourage you ladies to be mindful of the love of Christ. He greets you every morning with His presence and watches over you throughout your day waiting for the chance to spend time with you and talk with you. He guides your path and protects you from dangers seen and unseen. He makes provision for your every need and delights to give you the desires of your heart.  By all means, celebrate the relationships God has blessed your life with and honor love shared with the people in your life but above all else, appreciate the greatest love of all, the love of Jesus Christ.

Photo Credit:ID 44549304 © Paultarasenko | Dreamstime.com